SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: Ben Stokes starred in all departments as England began their quest to win the World Cup with a 104-run thrashing of South Africa in the tournament opener at the Oval on Thursday.
The all-rounder top-scored with 89 in England’s 311 for eight, held a brilliant catch in the outfield and took two for 12, including the last wicket, as England won with 61 balls left.
Jofra Archer did the early damage with the ball, the fast bowler taking three for 27 in seven overs.
Barbados-born Archer, who only qualified for England in March, made his presence felt even before he had taken a wicket with a bouncer that beat Hashim Amla for pace and crashed into the grille of the helmet, with the veteran opener retiring hurt on five.
Archer then reduced the Proteas to 44 for two.
Aiden Markram edged to Joe Root at slip and South Africa captain Faf du Plessis fell for just five when he top-edged a hook to long leg.
But Quinton de Kock kept the Proteas in the hunt, although the opener was lucky when on 25 he played ball from leg-spinner Adil Rashid onto his stumps only for the bails to stay put.
The dashing left-hander went on to complete a 58-ball fifty but holed out off fast bowler Liam Plunkett for 68.
Rassie van der Dussen then make exactly 50 without pressing on when he miscued Archer to mid-on.
His exit saw Amla return with South Africa struggling at 167 for six in the 32nd over.